Living Sustainably: New Park Passport encourages nature exploration with prizes

By Dan Callam ’09, Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway
Has your family been on an adventure recently?
There’s no need to wait until spring break or for a road trip to a warm, far-off destination. Your local nature centers are encouraging families to explore spaces around them in 2019 by visiting nearby parks with their new Park Passport as their guide.
We bet even the most enthusiastic park explorers haven’t been to all of our community’s parks. We had a hard time narrowing the list down for the passport! Parks are one of the things that make our community a great place to live and are a benefit to people of all ages and abilities. Plus, you can visit most of them any month of the year!
You can find a copy of the Park Passport at your nearest nature center or library to begin your journey. Highlighted inside the passport are 14 local parks in the greater Holland/Zeeland area that are worth a visit. Each page has a list of attractions and amenities, as well as a Challenge Question. Be on the lookout for signs at each stop that provide the answer to the Challenge Question.
Once your family has visited at least 10 of the parks and successfully answered the question, return with your completed passport to the Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, or Hemlock Crossing Nature Center during regular business hours to claim a prize.

Ambitious families may be able to visit all of these sites over a long weekend, but you have until the end of 2019 to get all your visits completed.

 Dan Callam is Greenway manager for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway.

Using the new Park Passport program?
When does the Park Passport program start?
Passports will be available Feb. 1 through the end of 2019.
Where can I get a passport?
Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, Hemlock Crossing Nature Center, Herrick District Library.
How does it work?
Visit at least 10 parks in the guide and fill out the pages in the passport while you’re there. Return your completed passport to any participating nature center for a prize.
When should we visit the parks?
Hours for each location are listed in the passport. Most sites are open year-round, and winter can be a great time to visit!
What should we bring?
Bring your passport, clothes and footwear that can handle a little dirt and water, and as many family members you can find! A water bottle and snack are handy for longer walks, or you can bring a picnic lunch to most locations. If you have binoculars or a magnifying glass, they can help you explore things that are far away or hiding down on the ground.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: “Sustainable literacy” is a good goal for 2019

By Michelle Gibbs, Office of Sustainability

Sustainability comes from the intersection of a balanced approach to a healthy environment, vibrant economy and equitable society.

With the recent turning of the new year and a new school semester starting this week, it is a great time to set a personal goal of “sustainable literacy.”
But what does this mean?  The United Nations shares that “sustainability literacy is the knowledge, skills and mindsets that allow individuals to become deeply committed to building a sustainable future and assisting in making informed and effective decisions to this end.”
Sustainability has been described in a number of ways, but the most common definition comes from the United Nations Brundtland Report (1987): “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Another common description comes from an ancient philosophy, The Great Law of the Iroquois, which calls for thinking about the “seventh generation” – a timeframe of approximately 140 years.

With both of these descriptions, thinking about how our choices today will impact the environment and future generations, especially far into the future, is a critical piece of creating a sustainable world.
So how do we do this?  We can implement the “triple bottom line” approach and think not only about the traditional bottom line (or the dollars) impact, but also bring to light the environmental and social impacts.  The triple bottom line encompasses economics, social equity, and the environment, now and into the future.

Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as about their community and how they are a part of both of these systems – and start gaining sustainable literacy.

Sustainability is an important concept for everyone to apply and is really “K to gray learning.”
Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as their community and how they are a part of both of these systems.  As we get older, we can learn about ways our daily choices have an impact on others and the planet, and we can make more thoughtful choices.

 

“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect,” said the great naturalist Aldo Leopold.

Kids and adults can plug into sustainable literacy in Holland in many ways, including:
 Get outside and take classes at one of our amazing local parks or nature centers.
 Kiddos can participate in summer camps offered by Hope College’s ExploreHope Program.
 Participate in local, state, and national government decisions.
 Head to Herrick District Library or one of our great local bookstores to find reading materials.
 Learn more about Holland’s Sustainability Framework at
www.cityofholland.com/sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs.

 Attend the monthly “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore” events. Save the date for the following spring events:

o Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick District Library — Environment (stormwater,
climate change, and resilient communities)
o March 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Quality of Life (affordable housing in Ottawa
County)
o April 23, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Economics (sustainable businesses in the
greater Holland area)
o May 14, 6 p.m. at Holland Energy Park — Transportation (green commuting in
Holland including a mini green vehicle car show and bike ride)

The bottom line of sustainable literacy is, then: Get to know the natural world and your personal impacts on it, get involved in your community, and together we will create a better world.

 Michelle Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College and the director for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a partnership between Hope, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: We can resolve to be greener in 2019

By Karen Frink ’17, Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute
As we celebrate the end of 2018 and the start of 2019, many of us list resolutions to improve our lifestyle in the coming year. What if your resolutions could help not only you but the earth and your local community, as well?
Your friends at the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute challenge you to consider adding green resolutions to your list.
Some green resolutions are easy to think of:
 Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room or when natural light is bright.
 Divert as much as possible of your household waste from the landfill by using recycling and composting.
 Unplug electronics that aren’t in use.
 Eliminate your use of single-use plastics such as water bottles, plastic bags, and plastic silverware.

If you need more inspiration, Holland’s seven sustainability framework categories are an excellent place to start. Below are the seven categories and some ideas in each area to consider for your resolutions:

Environmental Awareness/Action:
 Check local dashboards that report on the status of Holland’s sustainability efforts and Project Clarity’s environmental cleanup. Check out
https://hollandsustainabilityreport.org/ or http://www.macatawaclarity.org/monitoring/

Economic Development:
 Shop small local businesses to support the local economy.
 If you own a business, take the Quick Impact Assessment to see how you can save energy and otherwise be sustainable in 2019. Find it here: https://goodfor.org/about/how-to

Transportation:
 Travel on a bike. Become familiar with bike paths during Bike Holland events, which kick off at the May Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore program.
 Walk, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible.

Smart Energy:
 Switch your lights to LED bulbs.
 Delay switching on heat or air conditioning when not essential.
 Invest in renewable energy options – solar for your home, or electric for your car.
 Take part in Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program. Look for “Rehabilitation Programs” under “Housing,” in the “Residents” pulldown on the city webpage:
www.cityofhollandcom .

Quality of Life:
 Transition to more clean and green food and body products. Eat fresh, organic, local, and in-season produce and eliminate products with ingredient names that you cannot read.
 If fitness is a resolution, consider a gym close to home so you can walk, run, or bike there and begin your workout before you step foot in the door.

Community knowledge:
 Regularly attend the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series to learn from local experts about sustainability topics. Check out
https://facebook.com/LivingSustainablyAlongtheLakeshore/

Community and Neighborhood:
 Volunteer for nonprofits, homeless shelters, food pantries, and beach/neighborhood clean ups.

Wishing you success in creating a green 2019!
 Karen Frink is an intern with the Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Checking competitors boosts economic sustainability

By Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage Image result for lakeshore advantage
The Holland area is blessed to have one of the strongest economies in the state of Michigan.
Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in Michigan over the last eight years, its population growing at a rate of 8.5 percent. Allegan County has grown at a rate of 4.5 percent over that period, making it the seventh fastest growing county in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the Grand Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area, of which the Holland area is part, is one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S., according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Exploring what makes other communities successful, Michigan West Coast Chamber President Jane Clark and Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens are in downtown Indianapolis, outside of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Given all that, it would be easy now to simply rest on our laurels. But we didn’t become the strongest region in the state by coasting. We did it by hard work.  Over the past year, the Lakeshore Advantage team looked outside our region to ensure our economic health is sustained. To do this, first we had to identify our competition. In-depth research identified four best-in-class national communities that we compete with for jobs and talent: Indianapolis, IN; Greenville / Spartanburg, SC; Nashville, Tenn; and Cleveland, OH.
One consideration was expansion of existing local companies. We know that when employers seek to expand, they often consider their current locations first. Sixty-nine percent of area employers interviewed for our 2018 Business Intelligence Report stated they have plans to expand in the next three years. Of the companies reporting plans to expand, over half have locations in other states.

These companies have a decision to make: Will they expand here, or elsewhere? In 2018, Lakeshore Advantage assisted with 27 business expansions in our region, accounting for over $235 million in private investment and 750 new jobs in our community. So, we also considered local employer concentration with out-of-state locations in choosing our comparative communities.

Michigan Economic Development Manager Bill Kratz and Lakeshore Advantage COO Angela Huesman check out public art in Spartanburg as part of exploring what makes other communities successful.

Next, we hit the road. This fall we trekked to Indianapolis and Greenville / Spartanburg, along with representatives from the West Coast Chamber and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  We went to size up our competition, to learn best practices of those regions for attracting people and businesses. This learning helps the Holland area continue to be a top choice for business investment and talent attraction. In the next six months, we will complete all four learning tours by visiting Nashville and Cleveland.

Here are key nuggets of economic sustainability we have learned so far from our comparisons:
Regionalism: Key is an understanding of the region’s value proposition as a whole. These communities do not stand alone; they work with partners in neighboring communities to compete for top talent.
Train for the Future: Sustainable investment is being made by the K-12 systems and community colleges to train students for jobs of the future. These programs are developed side-by-side with area business leaders to ensure they meet current and future workforce demand.
Community Building: Diversity and inclusion are necessary to build community.  Opportunities include engagement in behind-the-scenes operations at arts, entertainment and philanthropic organizations to develop leaders early and create a sense of belonging.

Collaboration, investing in local talent and placemaking are themes we see that make other regions –and our region – successful and sustainable economically. Our local economic culture is one in which these ideals thrive, which positions us for success in the future.  Though we continue to make strides in these areas, seeing our competition firsthand reminds us we can’t rest. There is still much work to be done to stay one step ahead of our competition.
 Jennifer Owens is president of Lakeshore Advantage, a regional non-profit economic development organization whose passion is to ensure good jobs in a vibrant economy for current and future generations.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Economic Development: Businesses and the local consumers are driving engines that generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new business and industry.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Recycle and reuse at the ReStore

By Stacey Korecki, Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity
Have you heard about the Holland ReStore and how it is a center of recycle and reuse activity?
The Holland ReStore is a donation center that sells materials used in home improvement projects.
Items such as new and used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more can be found in store.
The great thing is, when used building materials or household products are donated to the ReStore and then sold, that item is recycled and kept out of the landfill. For every $1 in ReStore sales, 1.3 pounds of material is kept out of your local landfill.
Habitat ReStores are independently owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates.
The proceeds from ReStore sales are used locally to support affordable housing. The Holland ReStore supports the work of Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity which serves Ottawa and Allegan counties.
The Holland ReStore, located at 12727 Riley St., kept approximately 742,725 pounds of material out of the landfill last year, and is on pace for that same amount this year.
This ReStore is known particularly for kitchen materials sales, and has sold 35 to 40 kitchen cabinet sets! Part of the reason that kitchens are a big part of Holland ReStore’s sales is because of the deconstruction services that the store offers. Donors within the greater Holland area can call the ReStore to schedule a product pick up. The ReStore deconstruction team will come to a home and take out the items that the donor no longer needs and bring them back to the ReStore for sale. It doesn’t get much easier to donate that that.
You can support your local ReStore by shopping, donating, or even volunteering. The Holland ReStore is always looking for volunteers to help with organizing, taking in product, cleaning, customer support, merchandising, and creating new products out of items that come into the store. Some of our most popular products have been made by volunteers using donated items.
Don’t throw out that old desk! Donate it to the Holland ReStore. A volunteer may just fix it up, and someone will find that your old desk is just want they have been looking for at just the right price. You kept the desk out of the landfill and helped someone in your community.
The Holland ReStore is a great place to recycle and reuse to make Holland a more sustainable community.
 Stacey Korecki is the development coordinator for Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity in charge of events and marketing communications.  Stacey also supervises the marketing internship program which accepts two college interns each semester.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

 

Living Sustainably: Unique community sustains quality of life

By Krista Mason, Benjamin’s Hope
Ben Mason was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. As his parents, my husband Dave and I, like many parents, found that the diagnosis of autism ushered in immense uncertainty about the future. It brought questions like, “Will my child speak? Will he live independently and find purposeful work? Will
he have friends?”
Today, at 23, Ben does indeed have an extraordinary life full of friendship and purpose! Though profoundly impacted by autism, his life has inspired Benjamin’s Hope, a 40-acre “live, work, play, worship” farmstead campus on the north side of Holland, a community in which people of all abilities are transformed by the love of Christ.
Now open five years, Ben’s Hope celebrates abundant life happening in residential homes, the Life Enrichment Day Program, and through The Church of Ben’s Hope.

Hundreds of people are directly touched by Ben’s Hope each week with lives engaged in the four facets of live, work, play and worship:

  • Live: 30 men and women live at Ben’s Hope in six beautiful farm-style homes.
  • Work: More than 90 people work at Ben’s Hope as SideKicks. A SideKick provides care and support and is, by definition, “a friend, a companion in adventure.” 25 men and women participate in a weekday Life Enrichment program growing skills in gardening and animal care. Participants volunteer all over the community – at Kids Food Basket, The Holland Museum, Resthaven, to name a few.
  • Play: In late September, around 2,000 people enjoyed Harvest Festival, including
    hayrides, antique trucks, and even a helicopter! Ben’s Hope men and women are out and about town at sporting events, concerts, the library. And on Thursday nights, Ben’s Hope offers Club Connect, a super cool club for people of all abilities run by Hope College students.
  • Worship: The Church of Ben’s Hope meets every Sunday night at 6 p.m. This refreshing and wildly inclusive all-abilities worship is a great place to connect with the Ben’s Hope community.

The statistics are staggering. Today one in every 59 children will receive a diagnosis of autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Historically, individuals with profound disability have relied on the public health care system to provide needed housing, supports and funding. However, the reality is this: The public dollar is stretched. The need is growing. And people chronically struggle to find the support they need to live an abundant life.
Ben’s Hope relies on an engaged community and charitable support to continue its everyday extraordinary work. Each month Ben’s Hope must raise $20,000 to cover the shortfall of Medicaid.
Community giving enables the non-profit to remain debt-free while providing for nutritious food, excellent staff, a safe and beautiful campus, engaging programming, and authentic worship.
Communities everywhere are challenged to think in new and different ways about where people with autism will live, work, play and worship. Ben’s Hope is a community solution of public/private partnership that is leading the way and inspiring a bolder vision of abundant life for people with autism.
 Krista Mason, executive director and founder of Benjamin’s Hope – and Ben’s mom.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Have yourself a merry greener Christmas!

By Anthony Aragon Orozco, Hope College Green Team

The holidays are upon us! Which is also the time we might panic, wondering what am I going to get for who, how will I decorate the house, and what on earth will I make to eat for the holidays this year?

I’m sure we all have our yearly traditions and have grown used to certain ways of doing things, but have you asked yourself if what you are doing is worth the expense of harming this wonderful planet we all know and love?

Maybe we can think about starting new traditions this year that can make the holidays greener – healthier for the planet and for us.

Here are some facts to ponder:

  • Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
  • 35 percent of Americans have unused presents sitting in their closets.
  • About half of the paper consumed in America is used to wrap presents and consumer products.

In light of that, consider these tips for having a greener holiday:

Holiday cards and gifts

  • Consider upgrading your family’s holiday card by sending e-cards this year.
  • If you do buy paper cards, consider purchasing one that provides a donation to a favorite charity.
  • Buy gifts locally to support your local businesses and the local economy.
  • Consider gifting a membership to an organization of the person’s interest or an online magazine.
  • When buying electronics, look for energy efficient models, normally tagged with an Energy Star label by the EPA.

Packaging/ Gift Wrapping

  • Reuse any boxes or bags that you kept from previous gifts.
  • Put gifts in reusable packaging such as bags, baskets, or fabric wrappers.
  • Find gift wrap that is made with post-consumer recycled content.

Holiday Decorations

  • Consider buying a live tree with a root ball, native to the area, that can be planted in your yard after Christmas.
  • If you plan to purchase or already have an artificial tree, be sure to use it for as many years as possible.
  • Consider using few or no lights in your decorations.
    Invest in energy efficient LED lights, which can use up to 90 percent less energy and can last up to 100,000 hours.
  • Make your own decorations using items at home or purchased from local businesses.

Have a Green Holiday Dinner

  • Buy from your local farm market and research healthy recipe alternatives.
  • Buy beverages and snacks in bulk to avoid unnecessary packaging.
  • Serve food in washable/reusable plates and utensils.
  • Consider heart healthy dishes.

Have a Merry – and green – Christmas and a sustainable New Year!

Anthony Aragon Orozco is a first-year engineering major at Hope College and an intern with the Hope College Green Team, which works towards creating a more sustainable community, on and off-campus, through outreach and education.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: You Can Stomp out a Smaller Carbon Footprint

By Karey Frink’18, Intern for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

Many factors make up each person’s carbon footprint, as shown in this illustration. Source: Ohio State University Extension

Carbon footprint.  This is term we are hearing used more often, but what really does that mean?
Carbon footprints are often thought about in terms of transportation habits. However, every person’s carbon footprint is comprised of much more.
Here’s a complete definition from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change: A carbon footprint is,“The total amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere each year by a person, family, building, organization, or company. A person’s carbon footprint includes greenhouse gas emissions from fuel that he or she burns directly, such as by heating a home or riding in a car. It also includes greenhouse gases that come from producing the goods or services that the person uses, including emissions from power plants that make electricity, factories that make products, and landfills where trash gets sent.”
Did you know that you can actually estimate your carbon footprint? Calculators can measure a variety of variables to reach a good estimation of your total annual carbon consumption.
To calculate your individual carbon footprint, The Nature Conservatory has a simple to use, free calculator at www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/consider-your-impact/carbon-calculator/. It takes into account travel, home, food, and shopping habits, and will report your carbon footprint in tons of carbon dioxide per year. It also will show how you rank compared to the average consumer.
Once you understand what your impact is, you can consider ways to reduce it. The same Nature Conservatory website has recommendations for reducing your transportation, household and shopping impact.
More locally, the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute website, hope.edu/sustainability-institute, includes resources to help community members reduce their environmental impact. These resources include information about Holland’s Home Retrofit Program, greening your commute, as well as looking local first when buying things.
Ultimately, the quickest and most significant step to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce or eliminate consumption where possible. Purchasing less, changing your diet, unplugging unused electronics, and utilizing natural light can quickly reduce carbon impact.

This chart shows the sources of greenhouse gases in the Holland community’s carbon footprint. The total of 735,200 metric tons in 2015 is down from 795,200 in 2010.
Source: Holland 40-Year Community Energy Plan

The City of Holland is also monitoring the whole community’s impact in terms of greenhouse gases as part of its 40 Year Community Energy Plan efforts. Find out more at https://www.cityofholland.com/sustainability/holland-community-energy-plan. In 2010, Holland’s carbon footprint was 24 metric tons per capita. By 2015, it was down to 22 tons. With the impact of reductions at the Holland Energy Park, that 2017 number is estimated to have gone down to 17 tons.

Information about Hope College’s Carbon Footprint can be found here:  https://hope.edu/offices/sustainability/campus-sustainability/greenhouse-gas-inventory.html

So why should you care?  Monitoring your individual impact will give you power over your consumption habits. It’s easy to think that our individual impacts may seem insignificant. However, collectively as a society, as we make these changes, we will start to see the impact of these changes.
 Karey Frink is an intern for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute and will be graduating from Hope College in December with a degree in communication and a minor in environmental science.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Less stuff is more sustainable

By Sarah Irvin, DeGraaf Nature Center

This chart gives ideas for sustainable living, by beginning at the bottom of the pyramid when exploring ways to meet needs.

We live in an age of consumption, as evident in our overflowing and expanding homes, garages, and external storage facilities.
Studies have shown this accumulation is not making us any happier and comes with a cost to both people and our environment. So, we need to think about the impact of our purchases. Sustainable consumption supports our economy, provides for the wellbeing of people worldwide, and protects the planet, according to a group called the Global Development Research Center
To live sustainably, we must first confront the notion of “need,” which is drastically different from a “want.” Once an actual need is realized, we can refer to Sarah Lazarovic’s “Buyerarchy of Needs,” which shows ways to meet a need with the least social and environmental impact. The idea is to explore the lowest impact options first, such as using what you have or perhaps borrowing, with buying something new only considered after all other options have been exhausted.
Another consideration is the lifespan impact of a purchase, beginning with the sourcing of materials, to manufacturing, use, and eventual disposal.
This holiday season is a great opportunity to start buying more sustainably. Consider buying gifts that are gentle on the planet, socially responsible, and meet a need of the person you’re buying for. When buying new, look to purchase from companies that are a Certified B Corporation. These are companies that have committed to considering impacts on workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. Or look to support other companies that prioritize employee’s well-being, minimize packaging, use renewable or recycled materials, or whose products can later be donated, recycled, or composted.
Other ideas for sustainable gifts move away from giving material objects. Scientific studies have found ways of getting more bang – or rather, happiness – for our buck.

One way to reduce the clutter of stuff more sustainable – is to gift people with experiences, such as tickets to a play, an event like Hope Christmas Vespers or science camps for kids.

One idea is to invest in experiences instead of material goods. Examples are tickets for an event or skill-learning class; membership to a museum, park or zoo, or being generous with time, such as offering help with a project or learning a hobby together. Gifting experiences also have the benefit of including a memory to revisit.

Another idea is to use money to benefit others instead of the individual you are gifting. Donate to a cause that a person cares about, use money to create and distribute care packages for disadvantaged persons, or purchase from organizations that use profits to benefit local or global causes.
Our ultimate goal should be to pursue joy and generosity regardless of physical belongings.
Following these guidelines will create more complex decisions, but nothing is more deserving of investment than products that minimally impact people and the Earth.
 Sarah Irvin is an intern naturalist at the City of Hollands DeGraaf Nature Center.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Fall and winter are local food seasons, too

By Madison Ostrander  ’17
Eating seasonally is one of the best ways to thank your community and environment. Doing so feels especially whimsical and effortless in the spring, summer, and early fall, when the Holland Farmers Market is filled with beautiful flowers, fresh fruits, and a wide variety of vegetables.
But with cold and snow coming, many believe that means the end of eating locally. I’m writing, however, to fill you in on a little secret: The end of the growing season does not signify the end of the abundance of available produce in Holland!
As the temperatures are dropping along with your motivation to leave the house, harvest still happens. That’s whats so great about eating seasonally: The season will change and introduce new goodies which create opportunities to try new recipes.
Are you new to eating seasonally, haven’t started yet, or simply wondering what you can expect to see at the market from now on? How about treats like these:
 Apples
 Squash
 Broccoli
 Cauliflower
 Greens
 Brussel sprouts
 Grapes
 Leeks
 Carrots

This list of late-season items is pulled straight from the Holland Farmers Market website. Anytime you’re seeking up-to-date information about what farmers are offering, visit www.hollandfarmersmarket.com.
Knowing what’s available at the market can inspire seasonal soups, roasts, or enticing side dishes for dinners. Make your own soup stock by freezing your vegetable scraps until that icy cold day leaves you craving hot soup. And if you’re craving something sweet, try your hand at making applesauce, crisps, or pies.
The Michigan Farmers Market Association has an abundance of great recipes for using seasonal and local produce at this page: www.mifma.org/recipes/.
And the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems has put together a guide outlining when different fruits and vegetables are available in our state. Check for the mobile or print-at-home versions at www.canr.msu.edu/foodsystems/resources/.
As a reminder, the Holland market also accepts EBT Bridge Cards and Double Up Food Bucks.  If you have questions about this program, call (616)355-1138.
Although we all might be mourning the loss of those delectable late summer tomatoes, not all is lost.
The Holland Farmers Market continues every Wednesday and Saturday until Dec. 22. You’ll find tasty treats like breads, syrups, potatoes, kale, carrots, and beets.
Earlier this summer I wrote about the health, environmental, and economic benefits of supporting local growers. Now, although the ground will soon be covered in snow, that doesn’t mean we have to stop supporting our local growers.  Visiting the farmers market in the winter is still a fun family activity; you just might need an extra layer on.  See you there!
 Madison Ostrander studied business and English writing at Hope College. After spending a summer interning on a farm in Holland, her love and passion for sustainable and local living has only grown stronger.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.